The accident happened when another driver in a commercial van ran a red light and hit the passenger side of the autonomous vehicle. Google confirmed that the vehicle was piloting itself at the time of the accident. When it became obvious a collision was imminent, the human driver applied the brakes, but it was too late. The car sustained significant damage in the crash and had to be towed away on a flatbed trailer.
This isn't the first time one of Google's self-driving vehicles was involved in an accident, but it does appear to be the first time one of the tech giant's cars sustained serious damage. In a statement to 9to5Google.com, Google said, "Thousands of crashes happen everyday on US roads, and red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes in the US. Human error plays a role in 94% of these crashes, which is why we're developing fully self-driving technology to make our roads safer."
The United States Department of Transportation earlier this week outlined a set of 15 safety assessment objectives for autonomous vehicle manufacturers to meet. The DOT said "automated vehicles hold enormous potential benefits for safety, mobility and sustainability."